Posted on Tue, Apr 3, 2007
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be so close to God?? You the know the kind of people I'm referring to...they seem to have it all together. Does the Bible give us a clue on how to feel more fulfilled in our lives? This sermon was written to encourage each of us on our journey through life.
Reacting to the Resurection
Preparation for Prayer Psalm 143:5-10
Easter is over, the Easter eggs are eaten, the baskets put away. Relatives that came to visit have all gone back to their homes. You might say everything is back to “normal.” But what’s normal?? Maybe you have wondered what normal really is?…As much as we are slow to admit it, we like normal, however we define it. If you had company over the weekend, you probably had extra cleaning to do this week, Have you ever asked yourself the question “where do I go from here??” Does Easter spark a certain desire or need in your life?? Perhaps Easter is one of those holidays that come and go each year, leaving nothing significant in its path. I want us to ask ourselves—what is my reaction to the resurrection?
For the 12 disciples, as well as other followers of Jesus, Easter marked a significant event. Seeing Jesus suffer and die on the cross was a tragic experience for them. What were they to do now that Jesus was dead? Would they be the next ones on the cross?? The next ones to die? Obviously the disciples had reason to hide behind closed doors. Especially since one of their own had betrayed their master; who could they possibly trust anymore?? Jesus' death brought not only a sense of grief, but Jesus’ death also brought their hopes for the future to a screeching halt! Imagine the disciples, leaving all they had,-- to follow Jesus, and for what?? To watch him suffer and die on a cross? For three years the disciples had walked with Jesus, preached with Jesus, healed with Jesus, and now…everything familiar suddenly had a question mark behind it. What should they do?? Hiding seemed like the most reasonable and urgent thing to do—at least until things settled down a little bit.
The disciples heard the report that Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene and to other women, at least that’s what they said…but was it really true?? What were they to make of the story that a man they had seen die, was now alive?? Was there any proof? Certainly the disciples wanted to believe Jesus had risen, and no doubt they were comparing the stories of his appearing. The disciples were most likely comparing the reports from Mary Magdalene, the other women and Peter.
It must have seemed best for the disciples to wait in solitude for Jesus to reappear. After all, if Jesus were alive, certainly He would come and tell them. But the waiting for Jesus must have seemed endless? What do you suppose the disciples talked about while they were in a locked room together? If you remember one of the last things they did while they were with Jesus on the night they celebrated the Passover, was argue over who was the best, and who would be the ones to sit next to Christ in his kingdom. Now that Jesus was dead—or so they thought, all their arguments must have seemed pretty pointless. The disciples were probably thinking just like other people were, that Jesus had come to set up a thrown on earth. Now their "earthly" expectations for Jesus were silenced by His death.
I’m quite sure the disciples were not arguing about the succession in which Jesus had appeared. They were just anxious to see Him for themselves. After all, seeing is believing!
I find it interesting that the 11 disciples were not the first ones Jesus appeared to after His resurrection; Have you ever wondered about the succession of the people Jesus appeared to?? He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, a women who had gone through a dramatic conversion,--you see Mary had been possessed by seven demons prior to coming to Christ. (Luke 8) Mary had been lost in the agony of her own soul.--- Satan had taken up residence in her soul and body, and she was unable to resist his powerful influence. Unable to resist-- that is,--until she met Jesus, the Bible does not specifically record Mary’s conversion experience, but it must have been dramatic! At least we know that Mary Magdalene’s response was dramatic. Mary was one of the few people that followed Jesus to the cross. She was with Jesus, standing beneath the cross as Jesus suffered. The Bible does not tell us when Mary left the foot of the cross, perhaps she didn’t leave until they took Christ’s lifeless body down off the cross. We do know that Mary was fully devoted to the one that had changed her life.
Why did Jesus choose to appear to Mary first?? Perhaps it was because Mary was in the deepest grief over his death. John 20:11-17 tells us that Mary was crying, that she wept, the Greek word means wailing—a loud expression of grief. Mary had lost something special, someone who had changed her life. Jesus had taken her from a life of despair to a life filled with hope. Perhaps Jesus appeared to Mary first because she needed comfort the soonest. Or was it because Mary was the one person, who Jesus knew would not keep silent when she learned he was alive? Maybe Jesus appeared to Mary because she was looking the hardest for his return. Mary was probably the first to see Jesus after his resurection, but it wasn't long before others saw Him as well.
Matt. 28 records the moment when Jesus met some other women that were mourninig His death. The women had gone to the tomb to mourn and pour perfume on his body. I can imagine these dear ladies sobbing and weeping as they walk to the tomb; their minds are on thier own grief and despair, then they come to the tomb where they fully expected to find Jesus' dead body, however, when they arrive, the tomb is empty! Imagine their confusion, when the tomb is empty, and an angel appears! The angel tells them of all things-that Jesus was resurected. It was with fear and wonder that they leave the tomb, only to meet Jesus face to face!! What joy there is when Jesus draws near!! Jesus comforts the women with His words of peace, then encourages the women to go and tell his disciples to meet Him at the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus met with Peter too, why was Peter on the top of Christ’s list of “must see” people?? Perhaps it was because Peter needed to be restored after his denial of Jesus. Peter must have felt terrible about his denial. Now with Jesus dead, he would have to live with that denial for the rest of his life. What an awful thing to deal with-- Knowing the last thing you did for someone before they died was to deny that you knew them. Peter must have been in a deep valley of despair. After all, Peter had made this terrific confession of Christ, and Jesus had told him that He would build his church on Peter’s testimony and leadership. Peter must have laid awake at night, thinking, “Some leader of the church I turned out to be?” Peter, no doubt struggled with his own sense of purpose. He longed to roll back the tape, and die with Christ. And then Jesus appeared!,--- what a sense of relief that must have come over Peter! To deny Jesus, see him horribly crucified, then finding your own inability to prevail against temptation. Then suddenly! to meet Jesus again, to see him alive!! Peter must have been bouncing off the walls with excitement after seeing Jesus alive once again!
The Emmaus disciples (followers of Christ, not members of the 12)
The two men on their way to Emmaus were pre-occupied with the impossibility of the resurrection. There sadness related to Christ’s resurrection, was obvious. They were trying to make sense out of what had just happened. Even the testimony of the women who had seen Jesus did not convince them that Christ was alive. But when Jesus broke bread for the meal, their eyes were opened and they suddenly knew Jesus had been with them, and that He had in fact risen from the grave. What was their reaction?
They ran 7 miles most likely in the dark, to tell the 11 disciples that Jesus was Risen.
Can you sense the excitement that is building as the disciples hear each report of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection?? Mary, the other women, Peter, and now Cleopas and his companion….We don’t know at what interval these reports came, but we do know they all came within a day’s time. Can you imagine the disciples beginning to sense that Jesus was near because of the testimony of those who had seen him??
And then!! SUDDENLY! Jesus came and stood among them!! While they were talking about his appearances, suddenly there he is! The Bile tells us the disciples were terrified, they didn’t know what to think?? The doors were locked, suddenly there is Jesus standing right in front of them?? Was he a ghost?? How could he come through a locked door??
At first the disciples didn’t believe it was really Jesus…The Bible says it was a combination of joy and amazement that kept them from believing. It would be like the best thing you could possibly think of happening to you, and suddenly it seems too good to be true!! To see a dead man walk suddenly in front of you is cause for excitement and wonderment!
Jesus recognizes their fear; He doesn’t scold them for being afraid. He doesn’t give them a sermon about fear, but he says “Peace be with you.” (Jesus was saying I bring you inner peace) Not only does Jesus bring them peace, He gives them a reason to be peaceful.. Jesus asks them for something to eat—to prove that he is real. (Jesus is saying I will bring you outer peace, so you will be able to recognize the inward peace I bring) We have talked about Christ’s humanity and his Deity, here we see both, as God, Christ passes through unopened doors. Now as Jesus, as a human being, He eats some food to bring his disciples inner peace and proof.
Vs. 44 Then Jesus reassures them by comparing what has happened to him,-- with the prophecies about himself. Jesus brings reassurance to the disciples by helping them to see that everything that has happened to Him was a fulfillment of prophecy. Then Jesus opens the scripture to them, so they can be better witnesses of what they have seen.
Today we have Reality TV shows that are often the top rated shows. Shows like “Survivor” “the Apprentice” and “The Contender” all have one thing in common. Going through the impossible to accomplish the improbable. Have you ever wondered why we as Americans are so obsessed with watching an unrealistic TV show and believing it?? Then, hearing someone like Peter or Mary tell about seeing Jesus and being skeptical??
We can learn some very important lessons from those who saw Jesus the day He was raised from the dead. What can we learn from the Reactions to the Resurrection in the Bible??
1. Jesus meets with those who are the most PASSIONITE ( about meeting with Him.)
Christ wants to make himself real to you; He wants you to celebrate Easter everyday!! But is that something you long for, you are seeking after??
Mary wept for Jesus, longing to be with him once more. Longing to hear Him teaching and comforting her with His Words.
Peter, no doubt, longed to meet with Jesus again; if nothing else, to set the record stratight, to tell Jesus he was sorry for disowning Him.
The two on the Emmaus road were not looking for Jesus, yet they were trying to understand everything that had happened; they were trying to make sense of it all.
Their hearts burned as Jesus begin to reveal the scriptures to them. Heartburn is a bad thing, I don't know of anyone who appreciates heart burn, but a burning heart, is significantly differnt, a hunger to understand God’s Word in the Bible will always always be rewarded. That's the best kind of heart-burn How passionate are you about meeting Jesus?
2. Jesus will go out of His way to meet with ME.
Jesus met Mary in the garden, no doubt Jesus was waiting for Mary to be alone, so He could comfort her and help her to realize that her hope in Him was not in vain. Jesus cared about Mary’s grief and addressed her personally, calling her by name. Jesus wants to meet with you personally, to help you with the pain and grief you may be dealing with right now. He want to comfort you similar to the way He met with Mary.
Jesus walked along the road to Emmaus with the two men even though it appears he was not intending to go that way. Jesus was patient with the two men, yet He held them accountable for their failure to know and understand the Bible.
Jesus will go out of his way to meet with you, if you want to meet with Him.
3. Jesus reveals himself to me when I SLOW down. (long enough for us acknowledge it is actually Him that is with us.)
Do you suppose Mary had something better to do, then to get up early in the morning, go to an enclosed grave site? Maybe it was Mary’s day off, maybe she didn’t have to go in to work until noon. Maybe Mary just wanted to pay her last respects….The point is that Mary took the time to go to Jesus' tomb.
At first Mary assumed Jesus was the gardener. She was quick to ask where Jesus’ body was laid. But when she recognized Christ’s voice, everything else was put on hold. She ran to tell the disciples that she had seen the risen Christ. Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus Peter was looking, he had run to the tomb to see if it was true that Jesus was risen.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were too preoccupied with the events of the last days, too preoccupied with what-- might have been. You might say they didn’t see the forest, when the Tree was standing right in front of them. Have you ever wondered if there have been times when Jesus met with you, but you were too busy, too much in a hurry to notice? You already had your destination marked out, and until you got where you wanted to be, everything (including Jesus) will have to wait? The Bible does tell us that they were kept from recognizing Jesus at first, most likely because they needed to get their heart and minds prepared before they were ready for such a revelation. Importance of Meditation.
I find it interesting that Jesus met first with the people that acknowledged their need for Him the most. Jesus wasn’t so concerned about who they were, as much as where their heart was at. Two of the women he appeared to are practically unknown in the Bible outside of the first resurrection appearance. But Jesus came to “unknowns” first, then He appeared to His disciples.
4. Jesus reveals himself to me in the (common) EVERYDAY things. (But we need to have the presence of mind to be looking for him.)
When Jesus first appeared to Mary, she thought He was the Gardner.
When Jesus first appeared to the Emmaus disciples, they saw him as a stranger, then they saw him as a great teacher, finally they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. .
When Jesus first appeared to the 11 disciples, they thought he was a spirit or a ghost. Jesus revealed who He was through showing them his physical body, and by eating and drinking. How or where, might Jesus show Himself to you today?? Will you experience Him in the everyday things of life?
5. Be PREPARED for unbelief
We must first resolve the problem of doubt in our own lives.
The men on the road to Emmaus did not believe the women. They didn’t even believe the testimonies of Peter and John.
The disciples didn’t really know whether they should believe Mary and the other women or not. Were the women dreaming when they “thought” they saw Jesus?
When Jesus draws near to you through the power of the Holy Spirit, be careful not rationalize the experience away. It just may be Jesus drawing near to bring you comfort and strengthen you.
Realize that when the supernatural touches the natural, there is always a sense of awe, even fear.
6. Christ’s Revelation requires a REACTION!. Jesus wants me to be prepared to carry out His purposes.
Mary’s response to Christ’s resurrection was immediate. She went to tell the disciples “I have seen the Lord!. Have you ever met with Jesus and just had to tell someone about it?
When we recognize that Jesus is at work in our lives, it should excite us that we are in God’s plan. When we recognize Christ’s presence especially near to us, the experience should cause us to look for opportunities he is giving us. This afternoon, I may meet Jesus!! This afternoon I may have the opportunity to sense his presence especially near, closer than at other times. Maybe this afternoon, (if I’m paying attention) I will have the opportunity to be kind to someone who needs a smile, or who needs help with something. What about tomorrow, will I be too busy to notice Jesus as he walks with me?? Will I be too busy to lend someone a hand, to be the Jesus they see??
Jesus wants to meet with us, he wants to prepare us, and He loves to see us motivated by His love, His grace, and His compassion for others. Jesus wants to do a great work in your life What’s your reaction to the resurrection?
You see Easter comes to us when the resurrection becomes real. When Christ becomes more than a gardener, more than a stranger on the road, more than someone in someone else’s experience, Easter is real when Christ Jesus begins to create a hunger for the Word, a hunger to hear him, and a hunger to complete the mission he has for us.
You see when Joy comes to us and we don’t act on it,; Joy can quickly diminish into another passing glow. Joy grows dim, when there is no response, but when we translate our joy into action, by reading, studying, praying, by telling others of our experiences and EXPECTING, suddenly Jesus appears!! And He comes to us time and again, because He appears most often to those who long for his presence.
How are you reacting to Easter? You don’t have to wait until next year to meet our risen Savior! Maybe today …
If this message has spoken to your heart, we at Bible Fellowship Church invite you to hear more inspiring messages from the Bible, join us this Sunday at 10:45 AM.
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